No matter where you work or what you do, possessing at least “good” communication skills can make or break your career. Just think about the job ads you see online and even your own job description, they all include some requirement related to communication skills.
“Great oral and written communication skills a must.”
“Excellent interpersonal communication skills required.”
“Must have experience communicating with staff, managers, and customers.”
Unfortunately, many people tend to spend more time worrying about and working on improving their technical proficiency related to their career than they do their communication skills. The result? A lack of career progression and sometimes even career death.
It’s unlikely that having just one of the weaknesses below will cause a person’s career to come to crash and burn. However, having several of them, or having a few of them that get worse over time, may have a cumulative negative impact most of us would probably like to avoid.
Here are eight common career crushing communication weaknesses that could be holding you back.
1. Having a poor handshake. Whether it’s too weak or too strong, your handshake conveys a lot about you and may be sending the wrong message.
2. Poor written communication skills. Too many times we blame technology for our poor written communication skills, but it’s critical that everything we put in writing, even emails we’re only sending within our organization, be well written.
3. Nonverbal communication that conveys weakness or negativity, such as slouching, leaning away from a speaker, mumbling, speaking too softly, and vocalized pauses (uhs and ums) to name a few.
5. Saying, “I’m sorry” too much, especially when something isn’t your fault, or offering apologies you don’t really mean.
6. Using qualifiers, hedges, and hesitations. “I uh, sort of think we maybe should start the meeting, don’t you?” These bad communication habits convey weakness and uncertainty you probably don’t want to convey to your colleagues and clients.
7. Failing to praise or thank people for their good work. The bottom line is, good work that is noticed and appreciated is likely to continue. When people don’t feel you care, they stop caring about the work they do for you.
8. Being late to meetings, thereby communicating that you don’t care, or that you think your time is more valuable than other people’s.
What other communication “career killers” would you add to this list?
Amy Castro is a workplace communication expert and speaker. She is also the author of Practical Communication- 25 Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Getting Along and Getting Things Done and The Secrets to Effective Leadership Communication: From the Top 10 Leadership Posts of “The Performance Communication Blog,” available on Amazon.com for Kindle.
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